The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s 18th most populous country with over 81 million inhabitants. Since July 2021, Iran is a lower income country. Its development challenges include environmental degradation, water management, integration into the global economy and high rates of drug addiction.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme of July 2015 is a key security priority for the EU and the basis for EU-Iran political relations. JCPOA is a widely recognised achievement of European diplomacy. Currently, no joint programming is foreseen with Iran due to political constraints. Nevertheless, a Multiannual Indicative Plan (MIP) has been developed. It outlines EU priorities should the situation improve. These priority areas are
- sustainable growth and jobs (€33 million/38% of the total)
- climate change, environment and the green transition (€26.1 million/30% of the total)
- cross-border challenges – migration, forced displacement and drugs (€23.55 million/27% of the total)
In addition, a further €4.5 million (5% of the total) has been budgeted for support measures.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme for Iran for the period 2021-2024 amounts to €87 million.
The changing state of relationships with Iran means that flexibility in programming is required. However, a number of sectors within each priority area have been identified in the MIP.
Sustainable growth and jobs
This area aims to assist Iran in promoting trade and supporting private sector development. Development of trade relations and increased foreign investments are key to ensuring Iran’s economic benefits in a fully implemented JCPOA. As the JCPOA will remain the key security objective for the EU in the region, this priority area should be seen as instrumental for its implementation and preservation.
Climate change, the environment and green transition
We intend to support Iran in the development and implementation of sound policies to combat climate change, preserve the environment and start the country's transition towards a less carbon-intensive economy. This would lead to more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources and create a new green economy as well as investment opportunities.
Cross border challenges – migration, forced displacement and drugs
More than 4.5 million Afghans reside in Iran, many of whom are refugees. This area of programming supports basic needs for Afghan nationals and their host communities, migration governance and management, and addressing illicit drugs. Iran’s pioneering inclusive policies on education and health for Afghan nationals have been a model for many other refugee-hosting countries and global agreements. It is in the EU’s interest to support the implementation of these policies, to help Iran alleviate the burden of the crisis, especially with the prospect of a protracted Afghan crisis.
As there is no EU Delegation to Iran currently, no bilateral Team Europe Initiatives are planned, and a roadmap for support measures with Iranian civil society organisations (CSOs) does not exist. However, it is envisioned that the EU would support CSOs operating in the areas of cultural heritage and arts; drug demand and harm reduction; empowerment of children, youth, and women; and gender equality.